The homegrown feel of the album is expressed immediately through the the first sounds you hear on the record, crickets chirping and dogs barking, which soothingly serves to usher in the tranquil, downbeat groove of ‘Swimming Field.’ The album’s first single, ‘Bicycle’ is up next, and really proves to be a great revelation and one of the clear highlights of the record. It’s a bit of a slow-burner at first, but eventually becomes a joyous, uplifting dance track that can surely get even the most hard-hearted hipster ecstatically throwing their hands in the air at the club. The Horrors latched on to this song early on in the game, recognizing the songs irresistible nature, providing a moody, Cosmic Dub remix to the track. It’s amazing to think that Hawke construct this vast, swirling soundscape all on his own, but that just adds to the song’s grandeur and lasting appeal.
‘Green Night’ finds Hawke truly showing off his subtle but beguiling skills, using the familiar squeak of sneakers on a gym floor to provide the beat during the song’s breakdown. There is a hint of a funkier Midlake at the start, but when the song erupts it becomes entirely unique and exalted, and soars effortlessly. ‘Pink Stones’ has an otherworldly eeriness to it that echoes The Knife, and sounds too similar to the Swedish outfit to stand out. But ‘Stop Talking’ is far more effective, with traces of the funk-pop of Minneapolis’ Solid Gold coursing through they hypnotic disco-clash of the song. It’s hard to think of Hawke alone in his bedroom, crafting this song late at night after the rest of his family has fallen asleep, when the work itself could fill any dance floor with sweaty fans who never want the night to end. And that is the pleasurable dichotomy of the Memory Tapes project: just one man, alone, creating these unifying songs that anyone and everyone could and should grasp on to.
The album is closed out euphorically by ‘Plain Material’ and ‘Run Out,’ with the former starting out as a song about suicide, but finishing in a hopeful, anthemic manner reminiscent of Arcade Fire’s ‘Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)’, while the latter provides the slow, gradual come-down after the lofty heights achieved earlier. ‘Seek Magic’ is an album that is carefully crafted but never precious, with Hawke’s intentions clearly remaining audible but never sounding contrived. There are plenty of influences threaded throughout the record, but it has a consistent originality to it that gives it an entirely modern sound and style. With the release of ‘Seek Magic’, Dayve Hawke has assured himself that no matter what moniker he decides to record under in the future, people will be listening.